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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFreedom  is the word to describe the day. We were given the freedom to roam the city and get a feel for the culture and people that inhabit the vibrant city of Matagalpa. Students walked through the streets and visited the numerous vendors and ate the local food, which personally I believe is “muy delicioso”. Don’t worry parents, as street food is strictly prohibited to protect our stomachs.

We started off the day later than usual today, which everyone greatly appreciated. After breakfast, the students broke up into smaller groups of at least four students. Everyone was super eager to go explore the city. Caffeine was extremely adored today as most students found their way to the coffee shop, Seleccion Nicaraguanese, first. The coffee beverages were delicious and the caffeine brought everyone’s energy up a level. Other students began the day off by heading  to the basketball tournament. A few of the boys participated in the tournament and formed their own team against local high schools and universities. Sadly, they lost against the college team, but fought very hard. On the girl’s side, Erika gladly volunteered to play with a local high school girl’s team. Her three’s were on point and her team dominated the court. After, the students headed to another local high school known as San Juan, and watched the cultural dances and singing with the local students.

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There were two large blocks of time dedicated for free time. In the small groups, the students were able to do anything they wanted within the city limits. Most students picked up their laundry, visited the internet café, bought souvenirs and snacks for the daily night time bonding, which consists of cards and stories. Other students visited the thrift shops and numerous clothing stores the city has to offer. Each return time, all the students were rushing to get back to the hostel on time. The eagerness to continue exploring is still apparent throughout each day.

Today we also had a community action project preparation session to help us prepare for our project. We decided to paint several murals and help with tiling in the kitchen of a local school. The murals will help brighten the school and encourage the students to learn, while the tiles in the kitchen will help to keep the lunches prepared in it free from cement. We raised $508 for this project and are all very excited to start next week.

Each week night, we head to tutoring at San Luis high school. Personally , I feel everyone is beginning to love teaching. They are connecting with their students and engaging in deep conversations. Students walk into the class with deer eyes and leave with a smile of understanding and happiness.

As usual, we end our night with a meeting to talk about our day and experiences. As leader of the day, I led the meeting and took charge. Night times are always my favorite as I feel we have bonded and become a family. We share our experiences with one other and gain a better understanding of each of our different backgrounds. Lights out is extremely early today as the next morning we have to wake up at 4:30 to experience working like a local.

Today was a free day filled with excitement and unexpected destinations. Some of our eagerness was released with the ability to explore and get a feel for the culture on our own. We have been here a week and I have noticed the change this country has created in us and  the change it will make. I miss my home in the states, but I feel as if we have created our own here as well.

 

P.S. Sorry for the limited photos as most of the students were too busy having fun, but I promise there are many more to come. Thank you.

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